The Nerd, the NAS and the Wardrobe

Ok, so your network is secure enough not to be used like a cheap… er, well, moving on. Time to grow a pair and get some backbone. No really. The first step in your new digital home is getting something where you can keep all your data. Now you might wonder what’s wrong with having your data on your computer… after all, isn’t that the place it is supposed to be? Stop asking silly questions and read on…

Your computer, whether it is an jetplane sounding beige desktop from the 80’s or the newest Macbook Pro, will not be powered on all the time. In the case of the former you’ll get deaf, or ruined on electrical bills, and the laptop will usually be travelling with you (besides it doesn’t have that much disk space anyways). We need something that can always be on and stand around the apartment, preferrably without drawing too much unwanted attention.

This basically gives us two choices. First choice is having an entire computer server running 24/7. Which means we need to buy parts for one, assemble it, install it, configure it. Likely we’ll be done with that at the time it breaks down. The old-school nerd approach to this entails building a server in the wardrobe, installing Linux on it, and letting it run ’round the clock. The only positive thing that comes from this is that they don’t need the dryer in the laundry room, but can simply put wet shirts directly into the wardrobe. Furthermore this option is usually a big problem with key members of family. And thirdly it is truly uncool.

Alright, leaving that far behind us we head for door number two – the NAS. No, not NASA spelt wrong, but Network Attached Storage. Fancy name ‘innit? This is basically a preconfigured (almost anyway) small box containing a couple of harddrives. You plug it directly into your network and reap the benefits. As for general coolness I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Either this Or…

Glad that’s decided then. Now let’s start talking benefits.

Why not just buy a portable USB disk? Well the NAS you just need to plug into your router and the wall socket. Moreover it also takes care of backups for you through something called mirroring which means you don’t have to worry about loosing those vacation photos. If a disk in the NAS breaks down, you just replace it with another one and it will automatically recreate tha data. This means you will have to buy twice as much disk space as you really want, but its fairly cheap and well worth the extra dollars.

Speaking of price, again key members of family might have a problem with your budget for this sort of thing. At this time it is an excellent idea to ask them if they want to be responsible for loosing all the family photos and the videos of the children. That should do the trick. Obviously you are going to use the NAS for so much more, but they’re not ready to understand the beauty of it all just yet.

NAS is something that’s catching on as we move into the world of tomorrow, and there are quite alot of options out there. Google ‘NAS’, ‘ReadyNAS’, or similar and you’ll see. You can buy it in pretty much any computer store these days, in multiple variants. If you’re new let me point you in a general direction to get you started. I’ll hold your hand all the way.

The simple variant will have two disks, and you can choose from pretty much any size. Remember to think in terms where you need twice the size from what you actually want (recall mirroring). I would suggest a good starting kit to be a Netgear ReadyNAS running two disks each the size of 1 Terabyte.

Once you get the hang of it you might want to look at other options. I have some friends that consider buying a four slot NAS, but they start out with only three disks. Two of the disks they set to mirror each other. The third disk is more mobile, and to store data you don’t really need to backup anyway. The fourth empty slot they keep around for the possibility to upgradelater on with more storage space. Yet another option is going for a full-on four slot 8 (16) TB massive NAS.

If you buy a two slot NAS you won’t be able to put in more disks later (but you can can replace them with larger ones). On the other hand, the more disks the larger the NAS gets, physically speaking, which might be a problem with – you guessed it – key members of family. I still recommend you buy a two slot one if you’re new at this.

Alright, home assignment for next time is to google NAS and shop around. For a star grade you also buy a NAS. It is the first step you’ll do in getting your digital home up and running. Now there’s no turning back, just look at the christmas pic above – you know you want it.

So stay tuned.

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